What To Store in the Attic and Basement

Attic filled with furniture.
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Storage is often lacking in a home or apartment. Closet space is at a premium, and every spot needs to be used to its maximum capacity. If you are lucky enough to have extra storage space with an attic or basement, it's important to use it wisely. By knowing exactly what to store in your attic and basement, you will ensure a tidy and organized home. These spots may seem like the perfect storage areas for everything, but that's not the case.

Storing items in your attic is far more preferable than storing them in the basement or garage where they may get wet from flooding and are exposed to the elements. Use the attic to store anything that is impervious to heat. Heat can damage items such as photographs and wood.

In the basement, store everything in clear plastic bins, labeled and not packed too heavily. Make sure you can lift the boxes easily; if they happen to tumble over, they shouldn't be heavy enough to hurt anyone. If possible, try to store your items up off the ground to protect them in case the basement does flood.

Keep everything accessible: Store containers in rows like you would find at a grocery store so that each container is accessible and you don't have to move several boxes or bins to get to the one you want.

What to Store

While you might think that you can store just about anything in your attic or basement, some belongings are more suited for these environments. Consider storing items in the attic or basement that you only need to use once a year or occasionally. That way, these items are out of the way until you need them.

  • Holiday decorations: This includes ot just Christmas decorations, but Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving decor, Fourth of July party supplies, and even Labor Day if you decorate for it. Chances are you have spent years accumulating these decorations and you use the same ones each year. There's no need, however, to use precious closet space in May on your holiday tree or fall centerpiece.
  • Kitchen supplies: Store pots and pans you rarely use but need to hold on to, like a heavy-duty roasting pan. Also store items such as ceramics, plates, and dish sets for entertaining, unless you frequently entertain. Then, it would make sense to store them up on a closet high shelf or in your pantry.
  • Project bins: Store items together that you use at the same time for projects, including outdoor entertaining and crafting. Again, this will depend on if you craft once every few months, or if it's a daily pastime.
  • Travel items: This includes suitcases, duffel bags, and garment bags. These bulky items will still be close enough to pull out if you have a trip planned, but won't clog up closets in the meantime.

Consider storing anything you use regularly; it will be conveniently out of your way but close enough to grab when you need it.

What Not to Store

Basements by design are not climate-controlled. They usually aren't even insulated, which means that their temperatures soar in the summer and plummet in the winter. Plus, even the cleanest, most well-maintained homes are known to have a visit from an insect or mouse every once in a while. For those reasons, don't store anything in the basement that can fall victim to the elements.

  • Photographs: If you take the time to store old photos correctly, you can safely store photos in either of these spaces. If not, they could be ruined.
  • Flammables: Whether it's paint thinner, a stack of firewood, or lighter fluid for the grill, a basement is no place for these items. If an errant spark were to fly down in the basement, you wouldn't know until the fire was out of control. If you do decide to store these items in the basement, make sure the wiring is inspected regularly and a smoke alarm is installed down there, as well as on your main level.
  • Antiques, paintings, and important papers: A general rule of thumb is that if it's priceless, sentimental, or in any way can't be replaced, don't store it where it could be ruined by pests, humidity, or flooding.
  • Food and clothing: Don't store these items that can be damaged by pests, mice, humidity, and water.

Tips

  • Mice only need a quarter inch gap or a hole the size of a dime to squeeze inside your basement. And mice love to chew on everything from food packages to valuable keepsakes (not to mention wiring and insulation). Store your items in clear, labeled, air-tight plastic storage containers that mice and rodents can't chew through (and that can stand up to the elements as well).